Do You Like Opera?

Pavarotti (2019), is a documentary based on the life and music of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. Directed by Ron Howard, it’s not a great film, but it’s well-worth seeing.

What I liked most about it is that there was lots of music. It is made clear that the training to become an opera singer in the Italian bel canto tradition is not easy. Pavarotti’s glorious, dramatic tenor voice had to be developed and trained, and this involves a lot of hard work. It’s a lifetime project, as the film shows. The many clips taken from notable performances by Pavarotti are a joy to see and hear. Those high Cs have to be experienced to be believed.

The story of Pavarotti’s life is told: nothing new, but it certainly covers all the bases. Pavarotti was a great performer; but not such a great human being from the point of view of many people. This comes through in the film, which is very honest. The film is also kind, as little is said of his affairs with women other than his wife. His first wife and daughters are interviewed, which is interesting. They appear to have reached the stage of accepting him as was, not as they might have liked him to be. His second wife, who was 35 years younger than he was when they married, is also seen in the movie. This is also thought-provoking.

A great performer he certainly was! It was his ambition to bring opera to the masses, and this he certainly did. Who can forget his performance with The Three Tenors in Concert, in Rome? On July 7, 1990, on the evening before the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final, this concert certainly put opera on the map of many people who had not been in the least interested before that event. The beautiful voices of Carreras, Domingo, and Pavarotti, conducted by Zubin Mehta, filled the football (soccer) stadium, and shook up the music industry. Many concerts followed, and when Pavarotti sang with pop stars such as Sting and Celine Dion, he showed that music is music with many faces.

If you love opera, or are even only intrested in learning about Pavarotti and his art, this film is for you!


6 thoughts on “Do You Like Opera?”

  1. I sometimes listen to a little part of an opera.   I do not have the patience to listen to an entire opera.   I find opera to be too distracting to have as background music while reading.   

    I have only taken in a few operas in live performance.   I enjoyed every one.

    But the most fun of all was an occasion when I got to sit in on a dress rehearsal of La Traviata.  I was a grad student then, and knew a couple of the members of the chorus, who were music students.   That was a hoot; Snooks and I had the libretto spread out in our laps, and thoroughly delighted in the pauses for discussion between the conductor and the principals.  (We were engaged at the time.)   (Bijou, Knoxville, 1978; Costa, Ziegler, Stewart, Lorey; Starr, Lucas).   If you ever get to go to a dress rehearsal, you will find it more entertaining than the regular performance.

  2. Douglas:
    How deep in the tech sector am I when the first thing I thought of when seeing “Opera” was the browser?

    Yeah, well, don’t leave the high legacy of classical music out of your life.   It is beautiful, sophisticated and provides a treat for both the emotions and the intellect.   From Bach to Bernstein, from Monteverdi to Gershwin, classical music is a high point of western civilization.   Claim it as a birthright.

    And be sure to push back against the foolishness that says classical music is racist.

  3. MJBubba:
    Yeah, well, don’t leave the high legacy of classical music out of your life.

    Oh, I love classical music. Especially (Gasp!) Russian classical music. Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony is never off my playlist. Holst’s Planets is also a perennial.


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